There are plenty of things that I love spending money on – clothes, books, fun things for the kids – but lawn care is definitely not one of them. This year I’ve made a conscious effort to cut down the costs of my lawn care so that I can use that money for something more enjoyable. I’ve been quite surprised at just how much you can save with some simple tips, and you might be, too! Here are seven of the best tips for saving money on your lawn:

1. Collect rainwater

As a Krazy Coupon Lady, I rarely pay for something that I can get for free, so collecting rainwater is a given! Not only does collecting rainwater help the environment, but it can save you thousands of gallons of tap water each year. In fact, according to Gardeners.com, if your area receives 10 inches of rain during the spring and summer months, you could collect as much as 8,000 gallons of free water! Because rainwater is free of many contaminants that most water picks up as it filters through the soil, it is perfect for watering your lawn and potted plants, and it can even be used to top off your swimming pool! Many people believe that you have to purchase an expensive system in order to collect rainwater but in actuality you can simply use buckets, pots, pans or any other open container! Just be sure to cover the container or use it quickly so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Another great aspect to collecting rainwater is that it is a great way to combat water restrictions if you live in an area that has these. In my town, I am only allowed to water on Thursdays and Sundays — and if I forget to water on these days I would just be out of luck if it weren’t for my collection of rainwater!

2. Compost

Instead of purchasing fertilizer or compost at your local hardware store, consider starting your own compost pile. For about $30, you can purchase a compost bin such as this one (or make your own) and possibly reap more than $200 worth of free fertilizer during the year. You can get that rich, fine soil that a compost creates by throwing in items such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps, dead leaves – even dryer lint! Make sure you turn the pile every couple of weeks to help it decompose, and not only will you end up with an endless supply of nutrient-rich fertilizer, but you might just save a few bucks on trash bags, as well!

 Read this article for more info on composting.

3. Plant perennials instead of annuals

If you’re buying new annuals every year, you’re probably spending more than you need to. Not only can annuals be pricey, particularly if you’re purchasing live plants instead of seeds, but they can be very time consuming to plant. Instead, consider perennials, which come back every year. Next year when your flowers come back and you see your neighbor outside planting new annuals, you can just smile and wave as you lay back in your hammock!

4. Mow higher

It may sound silly to leave your grass longer, but taller grass can actually save you money! According to lawn experts, when you cut your grass too low it actually grows faster in order to gain more area for photosynthesis. Since taller grass already has the surface area it needs, it tends to grow slower. Another perk of tall grass is that it robs weeds of the sunlight they need to spread, so you’re likely to end up with less weeds while saving more green. To mow your grass higher, simply set your mower to the highest setting possible.

5. Make your own weed killer

Everyone hates weeds. They’re unsightly, can wreck havoc on your yard, and can often be extremely difficult to get rid of. Instead of spending big bucks on chemical weed killers, try this cheap and effective homemade remedy: simply mix one gallon of vinegar with one cup of salt and one tablespoon of soap (any dish soap will work) and spray this on the affected areas. Keep in mind, this formula doesn’t work on everything but has been shown to be effective on broadleaf weeds including dandelions. Other homemade weed killers that many folks swear by include vodka, boiling water, rock salt and cornmeal.

6. Don’t dispose of grass clippings

This is one of my favorite tips when it comes to lawn care because it requires no work whatsoever, and the less work I have to do in the yard, the happier I am! Instead of spending the time and money to bag your grass clippings after you’ve mowed, leave them! According to Colorado State University, grass clippings are a free source of nitrogen, and leaving them in your lawn can reduce the amount of fertilizer needed by as much as 50 percent! Not only that, but grass clippings can prolong the effect of fertilization, resulting in steady grass growth. This won’t work if you’ve let your grass grow too long because the clippings can smother your grass, so make sure that you’re not letting your grass grow higher than three inches or so. If you do put that mowing off a bit longer than you should (we’ve all done it!) remember tip number two, and toss those clippings into your compost.

7. Don’t skip the preventative treatments

You may think you’re going to save money by skipping things such as pre-emergents and other treatments, but skipping preventative measures can quite possibly cost you more in the long run. Basic lawn treatments such as aeration and pre-emergents are easy enough to do yourself and won’t cost a fortune. Aeration can be as simple as poking holes in the surface of your lawn to help break up compacted soil so that the proper nutrients can reach the roots. This can actually be done with an old pair of spiked shoes or cleats — really! A weed preventative, or pre-emergent, should be applied in March for summer weeds and September for winter weeds, and can cost as little as $30 for a bag. Skipping on these treatments may save you a few bucks in the short term, but if weeds take over your lawn you’ll end up spending much more. Instead, opt for the basic lawn treatments and save yourself the money and the aggravation of dealing with a yard full of weeds.

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